Big 12 Tourney Daily Diary: The SemisPosted by jstevrtc on March 13th, 2010
My goodness, how fun is this?
Was it raining in Kansas City yesterday? You’d never know it. Even with temperatures in the mid-40s and a light drizzle falling, the Power and Light District was still filled with college hoop lovers to the point where you could barely navigate through it. The Kansas fans are still greatest in number and noise-making ability, but the Kansas State fans have been slowly creeping up to rival the Jayhawk supporters in both categories.
I don’t have to tell you about how many great teams there are in the Big 12 and the high quality of basketball that the conference has given us all year, but how fitting is it that for the final, we have Sunflower Showdown III? Frank Martin said that Saturday’s game will have “the greatest atmosphere for any one game this year.” Couldn’t agree more, coach.
Some notes from the games and the day in general:
- Gates Bar-B-Q. Just…trust me.
- There are many other BBQ joints that can contend, and I want to thank all of RTC’s Twitter followers who sent me recommendations. But Gates was my winner. Wow. Kansas City barbecue on the whole is the Big 12 of barbecue. Their top five are five of the best in the nation. No, I get nothing from them for saying this, nor do I want it. Just my honest opinion.
- If you love college basketball, and I mean LOVE it, get yourself to the College Basketball Experience at some point. You can see the exhibits commemorating the history of college basketball, and then try your hand at all the skill games. I went 75% shooting free throws against the hostile crowd, which is way, WAY better than I did in high school.
- My ethics prohibit me from saying how I know this…but Frank Martin is a very, very funny man.
#9 Kansas State 82, #20 Baylor 75
- I HAVE to start the notes for this game off with Denis Clemente. This guy was a chucker all year long. In the Big 12 Tournament he has reinvented himself. I made similar comments yesterday, but I’m still amazed. It’s like Frank Martin flipped a switch on the back of Clemente’s head, and all of a sudden the guy’s a superb decision-maker. He only took good shots. He was the obvious leader of this team. His defense on Tweety Carter was incredible. Martin described Carter as “just tough as nails,” but praised his man Clemente for his defense, reiterating that “when you’re getting good defense from your point guard on the other team’s point, you always have a chance to win behind him.”
- Baylor is going to be a tough out in the NCAA. I think a lot of people will tend to put them out early because Baylor is ranked but not a lot of people filling out brackets haven’t seen them play. Ekpe Udoh is too good to let that happen. That’s how good the Big 12 is this year. There’s not one team in the conference semis that I would be surprised to see in the Final Four.
- The Bears’ next hurdle they must overcome to be even more formidable — they like to swipe at the ball instead of move their feet at times. If they can control this tendency to get into foul trouble, they’ll take a big step forward. Scott Drew will continue his trajectory at Baylor, no matter what happens in the NCAA. He’s too positive a coach and you can tell his kids like playing for him. Even in defeat, at the post-game press conference he was still congratulating his players, slapping fives, patting backs.
- I’ve seen a number of teams this season in a number of locations. Last night, Kansas State may have given us the best overall performance by a team all year for any one game. Aside from Clemente, Dominique Sutton was the most impressive, with 14 points, 14 rebounds, 5-9 shooting, 3 assists and 4 steals. Jacob Pullen actually led KSU with 26 points, but the story was still Clemente and Sutton.
#1 Kansas 79, #24 Texas a&M 66
- Talk about tough scheduling: Texas A&M has played the top-ranked team in the nation six times in its history. THREE of those have been this season!
- Bill Self remarked in the post-game on perhaps the most dangerous aspect of his team: “The key is, when you have good guard play, you can manufacture things without running anything.” So when you hear that quote, which three teams immediately come to mind? Kansas, Syracuse, and Kentucky. At least for me.
- The scariest thing about the Jayhawks was how quickly they decided to start playing basketball in that second half. With about eight minutes left, after playing a basket or two behind A&M for most of the game, it was like the Jayhawks simply decided to exert their will. At that moment, Kansas started making shots, and something happened in the minds of every Aggie which made them all simultaneously think, “Let’s take bad threes, that’ll help us win.” They exhibited great decision-making for 32 minutes, and then totally lost it. After every missed three, Kansas would hit one, or take it to the hole for an easy bucket or an and-one. That three-minute stretch determined the whole game.
- Kansas was physical with Texas A&M all night, and that may have been something that led to the sudden change. Halfway through the second half, Texas A&M looked worn down by the tough play on the inside. Something to watch in the tournament, since possible opponents may have seen that and know that’s an Aggie vulnerability.
- No doubt about it — this was a road game for Texas A&M. I originally estimated the crowd to be 4-to-1 in terms of KU fans vs Aggie fans. A miscalculation. It was more like 10- or 12-to-1.